Sunday, 17 May 2015

On retreating into galleries, museums and the beauty of art (with help from Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch)


Museums and galleries remain among the few oases that can deliver what has become increasingly rare in our world: the opportunity to disconnect from our hyperconnected lives and experience the feeling of wonder. Museums are where we go to commune with the permanent, the ineffable, and the unquantifiable. And it’s an especially rare, and thus precious, experience in our technology-besieged lives. Maxwell Anderson, the CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, describes a museum’s mission as providing visitors with “resonance and wonder … an intangible sense of elation—a feeling that a weight was lifted.”

- Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington
The Fighting Temeraire by JMW Turner (1839), displayed in the National Gallery.

Look for a museum when life isn't making much sense

"I mean seeing the Elgin marbles this morning gave me the same feeling and I didn’t know, don’t know whether I’m in Rome or Paris. I mean the Louvre and the British Museum hold one together, keep one from going to bits". - Asphodel, H.D.
Inside this clay jug there are canyons and pine mountains, and the maker of canyons and pine mountains! All seven oceans are inside, and hundreds of millions of stars. –Kabir 

Spend time looking at a painting (really looking)

View on Delft by Vermeer (c.1660-61).
She’d never seen a great painting in person until she was eighteen and moved to New York, and she was eager to make up for lost time – “pure bliss, perfect heaven,” she’d said, up to the neck in art books and poring over the same old slides (Manet, Vuillard) until her vision started to blur. (“It’s crazy,” she’d said, “but I’d be perfectly happy if I could sit looking at the same half dozen paintings for the rest of my life. I can’t think of a better way to go insane.”) - The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

Care for, or admire, a few beautiful things

Croatian Apoxyomenos, a bronze statue from 4th century BC currently on display in the British Museum's "Defining Beauty: the body in ancient Greek art" exhibition. Photo attribution: Marie-Lan Nguyen.
“Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty?” - The Goldfinch

Keep looking until you find art that resonates with you

Two Women in a Garden by Eric Ravilious (1933)
I’ve been thinking a lot about what Hobie said: about those images that strike the heart and set it blooming like a flower, images that open up some much, much larger beauty that you can spend your whole life looking for and never find. - The Goldfinch
if a painting really works down in your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don’t think, ‘oh, I love this picture because it’s universal.’ ‘I love this painting because it speaks to all mankind.’ That’s not the reason anyone loves a piece of art. It’s a secret whisper from an alleyway. Psst, you. Hey kid. Yes you.” - The Goldfinch
“Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering - because you can't take it in all at once.” ― Audrey Hepburn
 

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